The skill that is hardest to come by in sports these days is without a shadow of a doubt the ability to sell. The art of selling is neglected far too often by athletes, owners, and promoters. It is quite amazing that this happens so much, because nothing is more crucial in the process of getting people to buy tickets to watch your game or fight than selling. There are also those who do attempt to sell but they are either just not good at getting people to care or they oversell, completely eliminating any believability whatsoever. Selling is more important to the vitality of sports than any other skill. That includes the athletes ability to perform well.
What is selling exactly? Selling is the act of earning the fan’s attention enough that they become invested in your game. Selling sports goes beyond relying on fan loyalty to players and teams or the “love of the game.” People love drama and hype. In the modern sports, nobody understands this better than Conor McGregor.
McGregor walked into a room full ornery reporters this week and turned the place into a spectacle. You would have thought he had a captive audience of thousands inside Radio City Music Hall, but McGregor was so pure in his salesmanship that he created the most hype for a UFC fight ever seen. Selling is paramount in the fight game and McGregor understands this. Dana White does too and that is why, even though it may seem morally questionable, footage of Conor McGregor committing a crime was used in the promotion of this fight. It seems wrong for UFC to use video of Conor throwing a hand cart at a bus full of people, but when they know fans will eat it up to see Conor get beat up or beat up Khabib, does it say more about the UFC’s ethics or the fans’ insatiable appetite for being sold hype?
In order to sell something you need to know the product. Conor McGregor’s self awareness and his awareness of his opponent makes him a master. McGregor now builds himself up as a mega-successful “Don” of the sport. He repeatedly said that he did not need to fight for a prize, he is doing this because he loves it and wants to put a show on for the fans. That can sound egotistic to some, as well as really honorable to others. Either way, McGregor is selling you a character that you can hardly resist being emotionally invested in. McGregor also understands his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and is able to spotlight them when he has to, while also knowing when to expose them in order to play the all important mind games that play a factor in his sport. Knowing the dirty details of Khabib’s teammates and management is a good way to rile Khabib supporters up.
The UFC is a spectacle. Some people watch it because of the skill involved. Most people watch the UFC for “the big fight” and everything that goes into it; including the ugliness, the hysteria and the primitive behavior. The ability to package all of that as well as world class skill is what makes super fights. Make no mistake about it, Conor McGregor versus Khabib Nurmagomedov is a super fight. On six October, with the logo of his own Irish Whiskey on the mat, sports’ greatest salesman will once again have millions putting millions in his pockets as they watch Conor McGregor in yet another super fight. Many of McGregor’s peers criticize his salesmanship and self-promotion, but the fact of the matter is that if they could do what he does, they would. However, like any art form, selling just isn’t that easy.
– Alan Michael
— Proper No. Twelve (@ProperWhiskey) September 21, 2018